DoD Awards $15 Million Contract to LeoLabs

WASHINGTON (Defense Department PR) — As part of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Defense entered into a $15 million agreement with LeoLabs, Inc. to ensure the continued viability of space surveillance capability through the operation and maintenance of a world-wide highly capable phased-array radar network.

The ability to surveil and analyze spacecraft in low earth orbit is essential to national defense. LeoLabs, Inc. is the only domestic commercial supplier with demonstrated capability in this critical area.

Using funds authorized and appropriated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this DPA Title III investment will offset direct workforce and financial distress brought about by the coronavirus pandemic to a sole-source capability within the defense industrial base and ensure resultant critical capabilities are retained within the U.S.

LeoLabs, Inc. is based in Menlo Park, California, with operating locations throughout the United States.

Griffin, Porter to Depart Defense Department

Mike Griffin

Defense Department Undersecretary for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin and his deputy, Lisa Porter, have resigned from their posts effective June 10 to jointly pursue an unidentified opportunity in the private sector, Breaking Defense reports.

Griffin, who previously served as NASA administrator, was brought on board in February 2019 to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming research, development and procurement systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA) and other measures.

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SMC Announces Plan to Award Contracts for 12 Rideshare Launches to 6 Companies

LauncherOne operated in powered flight for only seconds before an anomaly shut it down after being dropped from the Cosmic Girl Boeing 747. (Credit; Virgin Orbit)

In an effort to support its industrial based during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has announced its intention to award 12 small satellite rideshare launches to six companies.

The awards will be made to:

  • Aevum
  • Astra
  • Rocket Lab USA
  • Space Vector
  • VOX Space
  • X-Bow.
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U.S. Defense Space Strategy

Fact Sheet
June 2020

The Defense Space Strategy (DSS) identifies how DoD will advance spacepower to enable the Department to compete, deter, and win in a complex security environment characterized by great power competition.

– Unfettered access to and freedom to operate in space is vital to our Nation’s security, prosperity, and scientific achievement. Ensuring the availability of space-based capabilities is fundamental to establishing and maintaining military superiority across all domains and to advancing U.S. and global security and economic prosperity.

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Electron Roll-Out Complete at New Wallops Island Launch Complex

Electron booster on the launch pad at Wallops Island. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Scheduled for Q3 2020, the mission will be Rocket Lab’s first launch from U.S. soil

LONG BEACH, Calif., April 29, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab, a space technology company and the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, has rolled an Electron launch vehicle out to the Launch Complex 2 pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops, Virginia for the first time. The milestone is one of the final steps ahead of Rocket Lab’s first launch from Launch Complex 2 – a dedicated mission in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division. 

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Virgin Orbit Subsidiary to Launch 3 Missions for U.S. Space Force

The LauncherOne booster can be seen under the left wing of Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., April 10, 2020 (VOX Space PR) — VOX Space, the Virgin Orbit subsidiary which provides responsive and affordable launch services for the U.S. national security community, has been selected to launch three dedicated missions for the U.S. Space Force (USSF), delivering multiple spacecraft to orbit for the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program-S28 (STP-S28). This launch service contract — awarded by the USSF Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) Office in Albuquerque, NM — is the first task order under the Orbital Services Program-4 (OSP-4) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. 

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USSF Announces Initial Operational Capability and Operational Acceptance of Space Fence

Space Fence (Credit: DOT&E)

By 2nd Lt. Kristen Shimkus
U.S. Space Force Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — United States Space Force officials formally declared initial operational capability and operational acceptance of the Space Fence radar system, located on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, March 27, 2020.

Space Fence provides significantly improved space surveillance capabilities to detect and track orbiting objects such as commercial and military satellites, depleted rocket boosters and space debris in low, medium, and geosynchronous Earth orbit regimes.

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U.S. Space Force Continues Operation in Face of Coronavirus Pandemic

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (U.S. Space Force PR) — The 50th Space Wing remains committed to maintaining space superiority year-round by continuing its essential missions to ensure it remains the ‘Master of Space.’

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Airman 1st Class Brice Brewington, 4th Space Operations Squadron extremely high frequency satellite systems operator is still contributing to the United States Space Force’s mission.

“It’s critical we continue the mission during trying times,” Brewington said. “Although there is a pandemic here on Earth, there’s no pandemic in space and our adversaries aren’t going to stop trying to gain superiority from us any time soon.”

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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Report: New Space Force Will Need Resources, Clear Definition of Warfighting Mission

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (RAND Corporation PR) — To meet the goals of the U.S. Space Force most space activities in the Department of Defense should be moved into the new service, according to a new report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. Moreover, it will be critical that the Space Force clearly define and clarify its space warfighting mission.

As the United States stands up the Space Force as a service within the Department of the Air Force, RAND was asked to assess which units to bring into the Space Force, analyze its career field sustainability and draw lessons from other defense organizations. The report focuses on effectiveness, efficiency, independence and sense of identity for the new service—the first created in the United States in 72 years.

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Report: Pentagon Needs to Do Better Job Protecting Space Assets

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As space has become a war-fighting domain, the Defense Department (DOD) faces challenges in assessing how its satellites can survive threats against them, erecting a Space Fence to better track satellites and debris in Earth orbit, and upgrading the Global Positioning System (GPS), according to a new report from the director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).

“The DOD intends to invest at least $100 billion in space systems over the next decade, and we are not alone,” the report stated. “We therefore must thoroughly understand how our systems will perform in space, particularly when facing manmade threats,” Robert F. Behler wrote in the 2019 annual report.

“Yet, the DOD currently has no real means to assess adequately the operational effectiveness, suitability, and survivability of space-based systems in a representative environment,” he added. (Download full report)

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SMC, NASA Deploy DoD’s STPSat-4 From ISS

Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) reaches its final orbit after deploying from the International Space Station, Jan. 28, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF SMC PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and its mission partner, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), successfully deployed the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat‑4) from the International Space Station at 11:20 p.m., Jan. 28, 2020.   

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House Science Committee Approves Space Weather Bill

Space weather effects. (Credit: ESA/Science Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The House Science Committee has unanimously approved a bill designed to enable the federal government to coordinate its monitoring of and response to space weather events.

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Report: China Could Follow South China Sea Strategy in Seeking Space Resources

Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization (Credits: Joel Sercel)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.

“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.

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